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Mueller Questions Wealthy Russians on U.S. Campaign Donations; Trump Says Female Migrants "Raped at Levels Nobody Has Ever Seen; Amanpour Talks to Refugees about Love, Relationships. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 5, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The Russia investigation seems to be following the money again. CNN has been reporting exclusively that investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller stopped and interrogated at least two ultra-wealthy Russians citizens at U.S. airports. And sources say investigators want to know whether these Russian oligarchs illegally funneled money into the Trump campaign or the inauguration through think tanks, political action committees or maybe even straw donors. Joining me now for more on this, we have CNN's crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz. And Joseph Moreno, he is a former Justice Department prosecutor. You know, one of the striking things is just how aggressive the Mueller team is being here.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, and we're seeing this time and time again, and some of the people that they're looking to question. The idea that the FBI is tracking how some of the Russians are traveling into this country, putting alerts, perhaps, on their travel and then meeting them at the airport. As we know in one case, they met an oligarch at a New York airport. They stopped him. They questioned him. He was given a search warrant. They took his electronic devices.

We believe they also served him with a grand jury subpoena. So, certainly, by every account this has been a very aggressive move. Just think about them, they're stopping these billionaires, these Russian billionaires, who are traveling on their gazillion dollar planes into this country. Meeting them at the airport and then questioning them about money that perhaps may have gone into the 2016 election. Certainly, there's still an ongoing interest in them in this interference investigation and even into the collusion investigation.

KEILAR: And there's a lot of diplomatic implications when you're doing something like that. So, Joe, when you look at that what does it tell you about where this investigation is going?

JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT PROSECUTOR: Great point. It is aggressive, first of all. This is a team that woke up Paul Manafort at 5:00 in the morning and raided his house and got him out of bed. Special counsel is not afraid to use aggressive tactics and the element of surprise. And remember, follow the money is exactly what this team was effectively put together to do. Many people on the special counsel's investigative team built their careers on sophisticated financial crime investigation. So, it shows very much that. When I was at the Department of Justice and we did counter terrorist financing investigations, we would look at clever ways that people would try to funnel money to terrorist groups. Often through charities and shell companies. Put that into reverse, the special counsel is looking at how money is potentially getting from Russia into the United States for improper reasons. It could be through PACs, it could be through straw donors or could be through other complicated transactions but it's definitely on the table.

PROKUPECZ: And all of this, from with an we know, is exactly what Mueller and the FBI is looking into, exactly what Joe just said. This has become a big focus of their investigation.

Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much. Joseph Moreno, appreciate you being with us today.

MORENO: Good to be here.

And that's are breaking news. President Trump literally throwing out his prepared remark today. You can see almost with his hand gesture there. Instead he was going back to his false claims that millions and millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Trump saying it's not a conspiracy theory as he's supposed to be talking about tax reform. What is Trump doing here?



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, this was going to be my remarks. It would have taken about two minutes but -- what the hell. That would have been a little boring. Little boring. Now I'm reading off the first paragraph, I said this is boring. Come on. We have to say, tell it like it is.


KEILAR: All right. President Trump, throwing out his remarks that were prepared at what was supposed to be a tax reform round table this hour in West Virginia. Instead, he repeated two falsehoods, kind of changing one of them. One was about Mexican migrants. The other one was on voter fraud. I want to bring in now CNN political commentator Van Jones. He also hosts "THE VAN JONES SHOW" on CNN. And CNN political commentator, Ben Ferguson, a conservative talk radio host with us as well.

[15:40:00] OK, the President addressed the topic of rape when it comes to Mexican migrants. This was really -- it'll evoke some of what he said when he was declaring his candidacy but also it got a key difference from what he said then. Let's listen.


TRUMP: And remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower when I opened. Everybody said, oh, he was so tough. I used the word rape. And yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don't want to mention that. So, we have to change our laws.


KEILAR: All right. Ben, first up, I want to credit Josh Green, our contributor, who pointed this out. He is conflating two different things. In his remarks when he was declaring his candidacy, he was saying Mexicans are rapists, that some Mexican migrants are rapists. Here he's talking about Mexican migrants being rape victims. Why is he rehashing this and also twisting it into something different? Why is he doing that while on this trip to West Virginia?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think his point and intent is to make it clear we have to have a secure border and many people that come across this border. Whether it be with coyotes and the people they end up hiring, unfortunately, do heinous crimes against some of these people that come across and they are abused and sexually assaulted and they are raped. Now, I don't know if you can say definitively that they are numbers we've never seen before. But I think what the president's point is that we need to have a secure border to make sure that people aren't taken advantage of, including those who are trying to come into this country illegally.

I think that is a point that has connected with a lot of people that have compassion with those who are taken advantage of when they're trying to come over for a better life. And as long as you have an open border and people take this risk, there are victims that come out of that risk taking and many of them are women and young children that are in a situation where they're with people they don't know. Who they're trusting with cash. And they end up doing heinous crimes against them.

I don't blame the president for bringing that up today at all. He's also talking about the issue of many people that come into this country illegally also come here with the intent not to just good hard-working individuals trying to come for a better life. Some of them do commit crimes, some of them do commit heinous crimes including rape. We've seen that happen in several different states, including California where he's fighting on border security with the governor right now.

KEILAR: Van, what do you think?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I just think he is the worst possible messenger or champion for this cause. I am very concerned about what happens to people when they're trying to come to this country. That's one of the reasons why we need comprehensive immigration reform, so we can do a better job of making sure people can come here, stay here, go back and all that kind of stuff. Nobody has -- can take that away from liberals or progressives. But this is a man who, unfortunately, has himself been accused multiple times of sexual assault. He has never addressed it appropriately. He is somebody who was defending someone who was committing acts of violence against women in his own administration until a few weeks ago.

So, I think that's part of the problem. He will take an issue that may well be a valid issue, but he doesn't have the standing for it. And then it feels like it's more about trying to paint that entire population in a negative light, all Mexicans, all Mexican immigrants feel -- he doesn't say all of them. Says so many negative things about Mexicans and people from that part of the world and so few positive things that his supporters, I think, feel sometimes encouraged in a biased view of that whole community.

So, look, I just am concerned at this point that you have somebody -- if this were your boss, if this were the principal of your kids' high school behaving this erratically, I think you would be very, very concerned. And yet this is the president of the United States. And we can all sit here and pretend this is normal or acceptable. Nothing you saw at that press conference if you're a fair observer would give you a lot of confidence in the leadership being shown by the president of the United States.

FERGUSON: With all due respect, I think a lot of conservatives have listened to what he has to say outside of a sound bite feel like they absolutely do believe that he is not unhinged, or this is not stable. If you listen to him for longer than five seconds or 11 seconds or 15 seconds, you understand the overall themes and ideas that the president is standing behind. That's the reason why some of the recent poll numbers he's about 50 percent.

KEILAR: Ben, let's listen to the president. He also said this.


TRUMP: We have a lot of things going on. But a lot of things are being straightened out. And I didn't --


KEILAR: All right. Unfortunately, that sound bite didn't work. But he was re -- I know. What a bummer. I wanted to hear it. He was talking about voter fraud. And he was talking about millions of people who committed voter fraud, which is verifiably untrue, Ben. What is going on? He is supposed to be touting tax reform and an economic message. It's sort of like the joke of whenever it's infrastructure week it become totally not about infrastructure. Wouldn't you like to see him, Ben, talk about an economic message and tout what he feels are Republican accomplishments?

FERGUSON: Look, I think that is certainly the easiest way for him to go out there and say certain things like this. And he does get himself off message when he says something, as you were just implying, that there's millions of people who voted illegally. I know there are people who voted illegally. I don't know that it's millions and millions of people.

KEILAR: Yes, you do, Ben. You know it's not true.

FERGUSON: I wouldn't say that. I just said I wouldn't say that. I think that there are people that vote illegally. I do not believe that it's millions and millions of people. It gets the President off message from what he's talking about today and the important issues. I also think though that are a lot of people look at the President and say I'm glad that he's not willing to give up on these issues of making sure that my vote is not canceled out by someone who here illegally or somebody that is a dead voter, for example. And that's an important issue that I think a lot of people say when I go to vote, my vote should count, and we should be fighting to make sure that my vote is not canceled out by an illegal voter.

[15:46:00] KEILAR: OK, let's listen. Do you have it? We have it ready I think. Fingers crossed. Let's play the sound.


TRUMP: A lot of times it doesn't matter because in many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to say, oh, that a conspiracy theory. Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people. And it's very hard because the state guards their records. They don't want you to see it.


KEILAR: All right, Van jones, final response from you?

JONES: It's a lie. It's just a lie. It's not true. First of all, I can't -- I've been working to get people to vote my whole life. If I could get people to vote one time, I would be so happy. Who are all these people they could find that would vote multiple, multiple times? I'm begging people to vote once. It's a lie. It's a complete smear. It's not true and doesn't deserve a defense. By the way, that one Rasmussen poll that shows Trump is above 50 percent, they've been showing him higher than everybody else the whole time. I wouldn't get too happy about his numbers. I think you've got a big blue wave coming and it's because people I think expect a little more integrity, a little more honesty. A little bit more professionalism than what we're seeing. And so, people can keep defending him --

FERGUSON: There's a lot of people that like the bluntness. And they like the bluntness and they like the fact that he's not acting not like a politician and that's one thing that people keep underestimating about him.

KEILAR: And gentlemen you will have to leave it there for time. Ben Ferguson, Van Jones. I wish we had more time for the both of you two. Thank you so much. And a reminder that you can catch "THE VAN JONES SHOW" this Saturday night at 7:00 eastern on CNN. His guests will be former Vice President, Al Gore and the director of "The Black Panther" director, Ryan Cougar as well.

Next, President Trump reportedly got testy with his national security team over pulling troops out of Syria. CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, who has been covering the war there for years, is going to join us live with her perspective on the six-month timeline.


KEILAR: This Saturday night a new episode of "Sex and Love Around the World" premieres on CNN and the host is Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent. And she's joining us live to talk about this. Christiane, you've been reporting on refugees for years, but this episode is certainly difference when you're talking about the subject matter. Because you talked to some women who have fled war- torn countries, but you talked to them about how they maintain relationships and how they maintain intimacy in refugee camps. Let's listen.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): I've reported on people fleeing war and crises throughout my career and I've always wanted to ask about how they manage to maintain what makes us all human -- relationships, love, and intimacy. All three generations of this family are sharing this small space, and privacy is scarce.

(on camera): You've got a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, you've got a new daughter coming. I just want to ask you one personal woman question. Here you are in one room in a camp. And you have to have husband/wife relations, you're pregnant. How difficult is it to do that here with everybody in the same room and -- what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good question, but I don't know if you get answer.

She says, "You are pregnant in the camp."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We manage to conceive our child here. It's a gift from God.

AMANPOUR: So, in this room you got pregnant?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one ever asked this question!


KEILAR: Christiane, your interpreter's response there is just everything. And I think it speaks so much to what this is all about, this series that you're doing. You're talking about some pretty private matters.

AMANPOUR: Well yes, and you know what's so interesting, the interpreter is actually a top model. She's a former Afghan refugee and now the face, she took over from Claudia Schiffer, no less, in Germany there. That was Berlin. And she is the face. She's trying to acclimatize new refugees, whether from Afghanistan or Syria. You know, Germany has taken a lot of them in. And she told me afterwards that asking an Afghan woman whose come from the most conservative society possible about her sexual freedom, but her -- just her happiness and whether she thinks she has the right to happiness and intimacy and the kind of relationships that we all take for granted. She told me that was a subversive and dangerous question. I mean, it's really mind blowing. [15:55:00] And I did get to the bottom of a lot of these interpersonal

issues with Syrian refugees, women who had come over, and one of them met a wonderful German man and was starting a new life. But here you have these conservative cultures coming from the Islamic world, colliding with very progressive Western traditions and morals and habits and behaviors. And a lot of the male refugees are being given, you know, mandatory sex education and education about women's rights, just so they can fit into this society. So that colliding with the whole sort of German-ness of Berlin which has been very edgy, sexually, politically, culturally for a long time. It just makes for unbelievably interesting conversations and television.

KEILAR: Well, it made me blush, I will tell you that. Christiane Amanpour, thank you very much. And do not miss "SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD." That will be Saturday at 10:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.

Next, we're back to our breaking news. President Trump asked does he still have confidence in EPA chief, Scott Pruitt. CNN learning the White House warned Pruitt against doing those interviews. He did anyway. Details coming up.


KEILAR: More countries have announced an investigation into Facebook. The U.K. and Australia confirmed officials there are looking into the company's use of personal data. Meantime, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will have to explain himself on Capitol Hill. He is set to testify twice before Congress next week about his company's handling of its users' personal data. The social media behemoth has now admitted that as many as 87 million people had their personal data accessed instead of the 50 million they first reported.

And "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.